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Llandudno, North Wales, UK

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Llandudno, North Wales, UK, is situated on the North Wales coast in-between Colwyn Bay and Bangor. If you look for it on the map you will see a small lump jutting out into the sea; this is the Great Orme. The Orme is a small mountain home to many families, a dry ski slope, a cable car and some Persian goats.

Llandudno itself was the height of fashion during the reign of Queen Victoria, who frequently took holidays at the resort. One unique feature of Llandudno is the Pier which is almost a quarter of a mile in length and houses many attractions along its concourse, but is ultimately let down by a games arcade at the end which seems to be stuck in the late 1980s.

Mostyn Street is the main street running through the town and is filled with shops and restaurants, many of which have been there for years. Little has changed in Llandudno and the major developments are conveniently located on the outskirts of the town, such as the McDonald's and Homebase1. The North Wales Theatre is also situated nearby.

A hundred years on from Queen Victoria's time and the town looks exactly the same. This is evident if you visit a little pub at the top end of Mostyn Street called 'The Victoria'. Inside are 100-year-old photographs of the town which could have been taken yesterday.

Llandudno is a nice place to visit and a nice place to live. This is one town that progress hasn't destroyed.

The Great Orme

The Great Orme, Llandudno, has a wealth of hidden secrets; there is evidence of habitation going back to the Stone Age, but very little actual archaeological excavation has been done.

The Copper Mine

One of the most recent secrets to be discovered on the Orme concerns copper. During the 18th and 19th Centuries there was a considerable amount of copper mining on the Great Orme. This peaked around 1840 with the discovery of a major vein of copper ore. The by-products of the mining, consisting mainly of rubble, covered a vast amount of the Orme itself, and the sheer quantity even forced residents to leave their homes. The rubble still covers much of the top of the Orme, hiding many secrets

Historians were aware that there were 'small' copper mines in Roman times with coins dating from around 370AD having been found on the site. New discoveries made as recently as 1987 mean that many history books will need to be rewritten. In that year, excavations revealed evidence of copper mining going back nearly 4,000 years! To put this into a more recognizable time perspective, some of the workings started over 300 years before the Egyptian pharaoh Tutenkhamun was born...

Originally 4 miles of workings were discovered and between 1998 and 1999 further discoveries were made, increasing the known size of what was already the largest copper mine in Europe from that period. Several thousand tools have been found on the sites, ranging from shaped beach stones to bone tools.

The sizes of some of the tunnels indicate that very small children would have been used extensively to scrape the ores from the rock. The methods of working the seams is similar to techniques used in India at about the same time and it is very likely that a traveller had imported the secrets of copper mining into Wales. At present, there is no evidence of the copper having been extracted on site. The discovery of the mines has raised more questions than it answers: who was using the copper? Where was it smelted? Why was the mining discontinued? Who were the miners?

Some of the workings are open to the (paying) public. Get there by walking up the Great Orme, or catch the tram and walk from the halfway halt.

The Tram

One of the essential things to do in Llandudno is to go to the top of the Great Orme. To allow tourists to do this an electric tramway was established in 1902. This has changed a little over the years, but in slightly modified form still carries passengers up the Great Orme. The vehicle itself resembles a small bus with wooden seats. The motion is created by a continuous cable running below the level of the roadway and the cable is moved by large electric motors at one of two engine houses on the Great Orme. The tram itself is attached to the cable. After boarding at the lower tram station, passengers are taken to the halfway station, where they have to change trams.

Although the Orme is only about 680 feet high above sea level, visitors are advised to take warm clothing if they intend spending any time up there; even on hot summer days there always seems to be a cool breeze at the top.

1A large, UK-based DIY superstore.

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